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Deathstalker (1983): He Who Controls the Cheese Controls the Universe

Deathstalker (James Sbardellati, 1983)

A generic fantasy battle scene decorates the movie poster.

Everyone needs a little ogre in their lives.
photo credit:

There are some sword and sorcery movies that are very good. Well, I’m sure they exist, anyway, though I can’t think of any off the top of my head. But for the most part, they are very, very bad. After the Schwarzenegger-led Conan the Barbarian got unaccountably popular after its 1982 release (I remember liking Mad Magazine’s parody, Conehead the Barbiturate, a whole lot better), every fly-by-night studio and its cousin decided to do a sword-and-sorcery epic. Deathstalker may not be the worst of the lot, but it is the worst that I’ve seen. Not a huge surprise that, though he was originally uncredited, Roger Corman had a hand in this (it and its sequel were later released as part of the Roger Corman Sword and Sorcery collection, along with the other timeless classics Barbarian Queen and The Warrior and the Sorceress. I’ve never seen that last one. I’m guessing I can safely skip it.)


Lana Clarkson, wearing a cloak and not much else, in a still from the film.

“This is totally enough armor to save me in a pitched battle.”
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Plot: Deathstalker (Class of 1999 II‘s Rick Hill) is one of those brawny, always-shirtless warriors with a big sword and a taste for swinging it. He and his small band are journeying around helping old ladies across the street and getting cats out of trees when they run into a couple of other adventurers on the road—the similarly-topless Kaira (the late Lana Clarkson, best known these days as the woman Phil Spector was found guilty of murdering), who tells him about a tournament being held by local overlord Munkar (Firefox‘s Bernard Erhard) to determine his heir, and Oghris (Friday the 13th Part III‘s Richard Brooker), who’s also on his way to the same tournament. Deathstalker throws in with them, and they all head on to Munkar’s castle. But Deathstalker has an ulterior motive; a wise woman has told him that the sword he wields is very special, and that if it is reunited with the chalice and amulet that go with it—both of which Munkar holds, and which are the key to his power—that Deathstalker will become the world’s most powerful warrior. But Munkar, of course, knows Deathstalker is coming, and he wants the sword just as much as Deathstalker wants the other pieces…

Rick Hill, wearing very little armor, and a couple of other unclad warriors in a still from the film.

“You’re all my friends now…but in a few minutes we’re going to kill each other trying to inherit everything from an undying wizard. Does anyone else see the lapse in logic here?”
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It would normally be your basic stupid swords-and-sorcery movie, albeit with a lot more boobs on offer than most movies of its stripe, had anyone who touched Howard Cohen (Saturday the 14th)’s script gotten in a few edits. It’s obvious from frame one that Deathstalker is the Good Guy(TM) and Munkar the Bad Guy(TM). And Munkar’s character is pretty stereotypically Bad Guy, but Deathstalker’s Good Guy is, well, not all that hot. For example, the first night they’re at Munkar’s place, Munkar brings in his newest slave girl, Codille (Hee Haw hottie Barbi Benton), who also happens to be a kidnapped princess. There’s a battle for who will spend the night with her, which of course Deathstalker wins. You expect that he—who is, after all, travelling with Bodacious Naked Lana Clarkson and is supposed to be going around helping old ladies across the street and getting cats out of trees—is going to tell Munkar “yeah, I’ll take her back to my room and roger her most severely”, and then come up with some sort of plan to get her out of the castle and back to her throne. But, erm, no, after a bunch of skullduggery, Munkar hexes up his right-hand man to look like Codille and sends him off to Deathstalker’s chamber…where Deathstalker does exactly what he said he was going to do. Until, at least, he realizes something’s afoot (or adick, as the case may be), and maybe the boobs he’s fondling are not royal after all. So it’s not Deathstalker’s good nature that stops this rape (and let’s be honest, that’s exactly what it is) from happening, but the fact that the funky cold medina got into the wrong drink. That’s a hero for ya!

End result: this is stupid and cheesy with a hefty side of nauseating. Avoid at all costs. ½



About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

One response »

  1. AMAZING! Must download it immediately. x


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